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Live updates, November 11: Collins poised to announce National reshuffle

Welcome to The Spinoff’s live updates for November 11, covering all the latest New Zealand news, updated throughout the day. Reach me on stewart@thespinoff.co.nz

7.40am: Judith Collins poised to announce National reshuffle

Following the revelation yesterday that Shane Reti would be replacing Gerry Brownlee in the deputy role, National Party leader Judith Collins will today be revealing her shadow cabinet.

With just 33 MPs (a drop of about 20 from before the election), it’s expected Collins will be giving some major promotions to some of her remaining colleagues.

In the Herald, writer Claire Trevett claimed the finance role would be taken away from Paul Goldsmith and split between two MPs: former leader Simon Bridges and Andrew Bayley.

It is likely to be loosely modelled on the “treasurer” and “finance minister” split which is used in Australia, according to Trevett, and would be the first time the split roles appeared in New Zealand politics since the 90s: when Bill Birch was finance and Winston Peters was treasurer.

Louise Upston is also tipped for social development, with Barbara Kuriger (former chief party whip) given heavier portfolio responsibilities, and a possible role for new MP Christoper Luxon – the former Air NZ head and a (likely) future National Party leader.

A report on RNZ this morning backed up the likelihood of Kuriger getting a promotion, but also suggested Mark Mitchell could join the economic team and Christoper Luxon will likely get a push up the ranks as well.

7.30am: Top stories from The Bulletin

It’s still raining heavily in Napier, and the flooding damage has got worse in the last 24 hours. As Stuff reports, hundreds of houses experienced a second night without power last night, and some are still in evacuation centres. People in the city are still being urged to limit water use to prevent further pressure on the stormwater system. A state of emergency remains in effect.

The downpour was caused by a convergence of factors, exacerbated by climate change but also sheer unfortunate circumstances. The NZ Herald’s Jamie Morton writes that 463% of the average monthly rainfall came down in the space of a few hours. A set of weather systems collided right over top of Napier, as opposed to out to sea or over a rural area. And as Niwa meteorologist Ben Noll put it, “in a warmer world, we’d expect those systems in 2020 to have the chance to produce more moisture than would have been the case back 50 years. So, while you can’t obviously pin climate change on this one event, you can say this is what we expect to see more of.”

The damage itself is really serious. Stuff has reported on a local artist who came worryingly close to being killed by a landslide hitting the side of his house. Hawke’s Bay Today reported on a woman on Hospital Hill who was buried up to her neck in mud, and had a lucky escape. Radio NZ reports this morning that at least 19 homes are now uninhabitable, amid hundreds more that have been damaged. Fortunately, nobody has been killed in this disaster, but the economic impacts will be serious. Stuff spoke to a furniture store owner whose showroom has now flooded twice in 15 years – he and his staff have a particularly painful few days of work ahead to get it all cleaned up.

Is the infrastructure able to cope with these sorts of events? Napier mayor Kirsten Wise has said the city’s pipes can handle one-in-100 year rainfall, but this was more like one-in-250 years. But I think it’s also worth reading this piece from local blog Napier in Frame, which is a bit more skeptical about the state of the infrastructure, and has the historical context to back that up.

Yesterday’s headlines

There was one new case of Covid-19 in managed isolation.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced a breakthrough on a Covid-19 vaccine, with early trials suggesting it protects 90% of patients from contracting the virus.

The National caucus unanimously confirmed Judith Collins as leader and elected Shane Reti as deputy.

A massive voter fraud in favour of the kiwi was uncovered in the Bird of the Year competition.

A treasury update put the deficit at $6.8 billion and crown debt topping $94 billion – much better numbers than forecasted during the height of the Covid crisis.

Read yesterday’s live updates here.